It’s time for the “glue shit to muslin and call it transformation” challenge. Makes you long for Austin’s cornhusk dress, or at least Korto’s salad collar, doesn’t it? Even Tim tells Fabio, “It’s a glue-the-shit-out-of-it moment.” Yes, Tim said Shit. On camera. What? Who are you, and what have you done with Tim?
Our brave band of fashion warriors heads off to meet Tim “someplace sweet” – big hint: a candy store. But wait, you say, they already did that. No, they did Hershey Inc. It’s never about the candy. Get it now?
Today it’s all about Dylan’s Candy Bar. I seldom use product placement brand names, but this is too good to miss.
See, Dylan is Dylan Lauren, and she’s Ralph Lauren’s daughter. She was inspired at a very young age to work in candy. At five, she saw Willy Wonka, the movie most central to her life, and from then on dreamed of being the candy man, except, like, a chick. So while she was inspired by the magnificent works of art she saw on her tour of Paris and Rome as an Art History major at Duke, she preferred “discovering and tasting new candies, and admired how artistically they were wrapped.” I’m not making this up – she went to the Louvre and spent all her time in the snack bar (ok, I inferred that part). I even had a whole shtick about her asking Daddy to give her a label under his brand and him buying her a candy store instead, but it turned out the truth is even more delicious.
“Because my father is Ralph Lauren, fashion and candy have always had a strong connection.” Yeah, she said that, standing next to Tim Gunn. Not exactly in those words, but pretty close. I don’t quite get the connection, but hey, who am I to say. It sounds like something a Food Network Star contender would say. To be fair, the store does look gorgeous, if aggressively modernist. Who can resist color-coordinated plastic bins of candy? And it’s not as hideously expensive as you might think – $2.95 for a tiramisu bar, “made from the finest Belgian Chocolate and sealed in our Dylan’s Candy Bar wrapper.” Would someone please tell me just what’s so special about the wrapper? It’s a candy bar wrapper, for Pete’s sake!
The designers – remember them? – get $250, and because Dylan is a sweetheart they get a 50% discount, meaning the markup on her candy probably approaches 200%. She also gets to be a guest judge.
Ven: We had hints last week that Ven was full of himself, but this week leaves no doubt. He does, however, have the skills to back it up. And he pretty accurately susses out the competition and sees Sonjia as his main competition. He’s thinking of stained glass windows, with black licorice as the lead framing. He interviews he won four awards when he graduated from FIT, which had never happened before. Like I said, full of himself, with the skills to back it up. He crushes hard candy, leaving it slightly uneven for texture, which is a good idea. He gives his model directions to not bend over, sit, move, or breathe. God help her if she blows it. But all goes well, and his stained glass dress is really stunning. The rose design troubles me a little bit, not because there’s anything wrong with it – it’s beautiful – but if he incorporates a rose into everything he does, it’s going to be a problem. Still, the layout of the window is artistically done. Yes, it’s shit-glued-on-muslin. But damn, it’s good shit-glued-on-muslin. The judges use words like “sublime,” “refreshing,” “beautiful.” Michael Kors loves the asymmetry, the discovery of the materials, the toned-down accessories, the fit. Dylan likes that he changed the form of the candy (hey, so did Raul), but is disappointed he only used two types of candy, and I want to throw something at her. Winner. And well-deserved, just ask him.
Sonjia: You learn something new every day, and today I learned about gummy sharks. The candy, and the not-candy variety. I can’t decide which is more astonishing. In any event, Sonja is gluing gummy sharks to the bib of her dress, and Tim is awed: it looks like sea glass. Even Ven, who thinks pretty highly of himself, sees her as competition. See, I told you last week she deserved a promotion out of “Who else?” Thing is… her outfit, which is as well-made as a candy outfit can be, still looks like a carhop uniform. I wrote down “50’s waitress” as soon as I saw it, but carhop is even better, especially with the little hat. Heidi likes the shape and texture; Dylan loves it. Michael Kors loves the surprise in back. Nina’s ok with the waitress/Judy Jetson Mermaid look; it made her smile, it’s perfectly made, and it’s adorable. See, even Nina will forgive the most glaring flaw if she thinks it’s cute enough. And it is cute. But it is a carhop uniform. And, of course, it’s shit-glued-on-muslin. Second Place.
Gunnar: He’s turning into great TV (see notes on Christopher for more) which I’m assuming is why his checkerboard dress with the peplum from hell is in the top. Except for the peplum it’s not bad, which is one of those “Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln” things. The damn thing looks like the leather apron meat cutters wear.
They like that he created a print, and Dylan is impressed with his candied accessories, and that he put logo’d ribbon around the bottoms of black shoes. She wants to put it in her window. Michael says he thought about the body; it looks like a woven raffia dress. No one mentions the elephant in the room, disguised as a giant black peplum that’s just as bad as the avocado dinner napkins Peach did (I watch way too much Project Runway, too). Third Place.
Lantie: She’s still shocked she was in the bottom three. Not as shocked as the rest of us that she’s still here at all. She does an earnest interview: “Back in 2005, I had my own shop and when the recession hit I had to file for bankruptcy, and look where I am today.” Yes, dear, just where is it you think you are today? You’re cannon fodder on a reality show. You’re the one they pick so they can have a few weeks to let the real contenders get their bearings (In Hannibal Lecter sotto voce: “Not any more”). She starts with computer cases and rain boots. Wait… where’s the candy? She doesn’t like the computer cases so she uses umbrellas. Again, where’s the candy? She thinks her dress is very girly with an edginess. What it is, is a reasonably cute halter dress made out of the striped umbrella fabric with a little candy glued to the skirt to make a flower pattern. It’s the sort of thing that might fly in a 2-hour challenge. Michael Kors points this out to her on the runway: it’s the same thing, she ornamented fabric. She’s a decorator. Harsh, but true. She disagrees, of course. Then she whines about time, which never flies. Nina admits it’s not atrocious (it is kind of cute, with a peplum that works, but the heavy lifting of cuteness is done by the fabric, and it’s not like it’s made or fitted really well), but she’s tired of the excuses, everyone else got it together. Bye, Lantie. Auf.
Buffi: She weaves candy for the bodice of a dress she wants to be fun, soulful, and wearable. It’s good weaving on the table. She also pounds the spokes of a Candy Bar umbrella, for reasons I do not know, giving everyone in the room a headache. Lantie doesn’t think Buffi is up to par, design-wise, tee-hee. She makes a bird’s nest out of cotton candy for a hairpiece, but it shrinks overnight so she has to bulk it up again. Her hot pink and coral top and skirt aren’t bad, at least I didn’t think so until the judges started in on her. The bodice doesn’t fit, but hey, it’s candy, and she braided it very attractively. Ok, the skirt is fabric, but it’s very party-girl which is what she does. I’m very surprised she’s in the bottom, in fact; I was preparing to be all indignant about her being in the top because of the bad fit on the bodice.
She defends it by saying it’s Carrie Bradshaw from Sex & the City, fun and playful. Heidi doesn’t like the use of paper on the bottom (that’s paper?), or the way it’s overaccessorized; it looks like something for a five-year-old. Michael Kors also sees Toddlers and Tiaras, not Carrie. He appreciates the weaving, but she looks like she’s melting, which, yeah, that’s true. And she might be. There’s a difference between fun and insane. Yes, there is, and I don’t think this is insane at all. Then the line he’s prepped in advance (I’m convinced he does that, someone writes for him and he figures out on the spot which look to skewer with it): “If you saw her wandering down the street, someone would put money in a cup.” No, Michael. I don’t particularly like that look, but for that look made out of candy, it’s not that bad. Nina calls it a pink explosion of messiness. Dylan, bless her, stands up for the weave work in the bodice. She still wants Buffi to buy her candy. But saved by Lantie.
Elena: She wants a linear look with a strong shoulder silhouette. And that’s exactly what she makes: a pina colada Terminator costume. She confides to Tim on Walkthrough that she’s worried about the single color; ever-practical Tim points out she only has one color licorice so it’s too late to think about that now (most parents would’ve said, “You should’ve thought of that when you were in the store”). I sense Tim is over Elena; he could’ve been more encouraging. Elena gets hot glue on her finger and her thigh and you’d think she cut off her leg with a pair of pinking shears for all the whining and moaning we get (and paramedics; hell, Missy Robbins sliced a layer off her pinky with a mandoline on this week’s Top Chef Masters, and asked for a band-aid and a glove, before succumbing to the paramedic’s insistence she go to the emergency room where she found out she really needed a skin graft and a few weeks complete immobilization before physical therapy would give her full use of her hand three months later – and she didn’t whine and moan once), continuing into morning, at which point someone asks her how her burn is, in a tone that suggests no one is truly sympathetic to her pain. Christopher sums it up: “Why are you wearing hootchie shorts to work?”
The big problem with her outfit, besides that it’s a Terminator costume and that, as Heidi says, it looks like noodle art because of the color, is that the glued-on licorice is falling off. Michael pops up with another one: “It’s a dress that becomes different things, now the boobs are old man’s eyes.” And they are, too! Maybe she turned down the heat of the glue gun after her painful burns. The patterning of the licorice is actually quite nice; it is way too bulky, but that’s what she does. Michael Kors understands her use of the “aggressive silhouette” (I’ll have to remember that), but she looks like she’s wearing a cardboard box. He advises her to find out a way to hold on to her aesthetic but still do the challenges. Hey, that’s not fair, she did the challenge. She just keeps saying, “This is my aesthetic.” They decide she’s arrogant. I’m not sure it’s arrogance, exactly, to say, “This is what I do, you knew that when you picked me for this show, so stop telling me to do something else.” Apparently no one told her one-note was a bad thing. Nina makes it clear now: if you can’t step out of this one thing, maybe you don’t belong here. Safe thanks to Lantie.
Alicia: she calls it a half coverall but it looks more Jane of the Jungle Romper to me (you can practically hear Cheetah screeching in the background), with green grassy stuff hanging all over it and a bra top studded with candy balls on one boob. Because I like her, and I think she’s low-maintenance and no-nonsense, I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt and credit for going with the challenge; the red swath adds a lot, probably saves it. But it’s still muslin with shit glued to it.
Andrea: She was born on Halloween, so has a strong connection to candy. Hey, it’s better than Dylan’s excuse. She loves the aprons the clerks are wearing (she’s draping them in fabrics and dot candy as ersatz models), so she uses that as inspiration to create apron for a Victorian Candy Bar clerk gone wild. But Walkthrough Tim is concerned. “I’m going to tell you bluntly, I don’t have adequate words to tell you how completely underwhelmed I am by this. You’re throwing the challenge. It’s sloppy, it’s unaltered, it’s craft-projecty.” I think he found adequate words. So adequate, it throws her into a tailspin, enough that she asks the camera be turned off during her solo. But she gets nowhere trying other things, so she goes back to her original idea, and this time she does it a lot more carefully, so Tim’s comments probably saved her from the bottom three. At one point in the re-do she was using licorice between the dots, which I thought was a great look, but it isn’t on the finished garment. This is scary to say but… I don’t hate it, at least from the front. She has a fondness for this A-shape, and while women who subsist on green tea and celery won’t appreciate it for the lack of body contour, in itself it’s kind of attractive. The bustle in the back is kinda weird, and doesn’t work unless you understand the whole apron thing; it looks like two dresses, one from the front and one from the back. The bustle is made of fabric from the umbrellas and other stuff they sell in the store, not candy. As the judges would say, she didn’t transform the materials, she relied on fabric, and she only used one material. But… I still don’t hate it. But I like Andrea, so I’m probably giving her the benefit of the doubt, too.
Christopher: He’s very focused on Gunnar; Gunnar’s rolling his eyes at my dress, Gunnar is threatened by me, Gunnar is the evil twin and I’m the nice twin. They’re riding this thing so hard, I’m thinking it’s been “suggested” that they play it up. In any event, Christopher has immunity, so instead of making just a little black dress, he makes a little black dress with a black, brown, and white stripe pattern. It’s quite nice. It’s a very nice make-a-simple-muslin-sheath-and-glue-shit-to-it dress. I’m surprised he didn’t win. He isn’t even in the top three. Which is probably to exacerbate the feud with Gunnar, who is. By the way, I get the whole Michael Costello vibe now. Yeah. In fact, several times I wondered what Michael was doing there. Certain expressions really do evoke him.
Dmitri: He wants movement in his dress, unlike everyone else. Remember, he’s a former ballroom dancer, so he makes a ballroom dancing dress with fringe hanging off the bottom. Tim freaks out during his walkthrough because Dmitri isn’t going to glue stuff to the dress until he fits it; Tim frantically urges him to get to it, he won’t have enough time, but Dmitri figures he can’t fit the dress once the candy beads are glued on so he ignores this advice. His bodice is thus somewhat candy-deprived. Still, the candy that’s there is beaded really well, with a yellow belt and red trim nicely incorporated. It even looks like the beads got farther apart as they rose on the bodice, so he would’ve continued that pattern, with thinner and thinner beading, and probably would’ve been in the top had he had time.
Fabio: He’s in the “Who?” category this week. His blue dress is really ordinary. Especially for a candy challenge, surprisingly ordinary. It’s got that matronly bodice they usually love to hate; I have no idea what the skirt is made of, but it’s got fold marks in it – is it fruit leather? It’s just bright blue meh.
Kooan: I’m not sure why they show a closeup of a string in his hair. I guess it’s supposed to be funny. Ok. Ha. Ha. He’s very melodramatic with Tim on walkthrough, doing a massive inhale; I think Tim was afraid he was having a seizure. He wants to make a sweater dress, weave the sweater out of orange twizzlers. But Twizzlers aren’t long enough. What, he couldn’t tell that from seeing them in the bag? He tries to glue them together. Nope. There is such a thing as rope licorice which would work for this idea, but he either didn’t see it or doesn’t really care about it, so he makes a Minnetonka Moccasin with a tugboat line on the back. There is a bib piece made out of woven Twizzlers, but mostly it’s a glue-shit-to-muslin-and-call-it-transformation Pocahontas dress. As with Buffi, though it isn’t anything I can even appreciate, it’s not bad, and it is what the challenge called for. He uses many different kinds of candy, including cotton candy which shriveled up overnight, leaving the dress with no skirt. But he made it work, sort of. I think it’s uglier than Buffi’s dress, but it is covered in candy. It’s pure Kooan. Hey Dylan – you complained that Ven only used two kinds of candy – Kooan used everything in the store. You want to put this in your window?
Melissa: She was pretty much MIA this episode. She turned out a black leather cropped tank and skirt which, if it were made out of fabric would be pretty awful, but considering it’s made out of candy, is really kind of cool. The licorice-and-silver lacing caught Tim’s eye on walkthrough; the leather of the tank is, I don’t know, licorice or fruit leather? I think there’s an overvest of string licorice. Construction-wise, it’s quite intricate, so it’s too bad it looks meh.
Nathan: I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever hear anything from Nathan. In any event, he made a lampshade skirt and halter top that would be easy to poke fun at if it weren’t so damn pretty. Ok, it doesn’t move when she walks, the skirt rests on her hips kind of funny, but damn, it’s pretty in the picture. The model has a perfect “Can you believe he’s making me wear this?” look on her face, but damn, it’s pretty.
Raul: He started with the concept of a modern Jackie O Chanel suit using smashed rock candy as texture. Tim’s flabbergasted that his blue “fabric” is candy. So am I; I’m not sure what it is, but I’m betting it’s shit glued on muslin. It looks like a pretty good crop top and skirt. The back is much more interesting than the front, especially the closure. Jackie O would never wear it, but for the time he had, not a bad homage (pronounced “oh-MAHJ”).
Next Week: Work in pairs – let the drama begin. And… no , I don’t want to think about the special guest. Too soon. I still can’t watch Season 9 reruns.